Thursday, January 11, 2018

BEQ untimed (Ben) 


LAT 4:31 (Gareth) 


NYT 2:44 (Andy) 


WSJ untimed (Jim P) 


Fireball  untimed (Jenni) 


Peter Gordon’s Fireball crossword “Putting on the Doggie” —Jenni’s write-up

Year 9, #2 is significantly easier than #1. The theme answers are all vertical and two of them are 17 letters long, so we have a rectangular grid. Each adds “ie” to the end of a name or phrase with cute, canine results.

FB 1/11, solution grid

  • 3d [Pooch like Fala from a Gulf State capital?] is MONTGOMERY SCOTTIE. Montgomery Scott is the actual name of the Chief Engineer from Star Trek, TOS. According to Wikipedia, his full name was Montgomery Christopher Jorgensen “Scotty” Scott. Fala was FDR’s Scottish Terrier, more commonly known as a scottie. Fala was so closely associated with FDR that he appears on the FDR Memorial.
  • 14d [Reply to the governor’s question “What should I do about your imprisoned bulldog with erect ears?”] is PARDON MY FRENCHIE. I don’t usually find French bulldogs appealing, but this one is cute.
  • 8d [White terrier belonging to “Dennis the Menace” star Jay when it’s within the Arctic Circle?] gives us NORTH NORTH WESTIE. This is the weakest answer of the bunch. Shouldn’t it be NORTH’S NORTH WESTIE?
  • 10d [Headline after a jaguar and a leopard eat a toy puppy?] CATS KILL NEW YORKIE. Catskill, New York, is a lovely little town on the Hudson River. The “kill” in the name comes from the Dutch word for “riverbed” and has nothing to do with animal cruelty.

Three of the theme answers are very pleasing, and I like the arrangement of vertical grid-spanners. I find it esthetically pleasing for some reason.

A few other things:

  • 5a [Pen, e.g.] and 42a [Pen output?] are not talking about writing implements, corrals, or prisons. The pen in question is a SWAN and thus the output is CYGNETS.
  • 31a [Demo liquid] took me a while to figure out. We’re not looking for “demonstration” but rather “demolition” – the answer is TNT.
  • 36a [Feature of the murderer in “The Fugitive”] is ONE ARM. In the movie version, Harrison Ford sneaks into the prosthetics clinic at his old hospital and searches the computer for the one-armed man. It’s one of the most realistic medical scenes I’ve ever seen in a movie or TV show, and the computer use is even plausible. He saves someone’s life in the process (and in a way that actually makes sense).
  • 65a [Rag creator, e.g.] is not someone who starts a tabloid paper. It’s TEARER – as in one who tears fabric into rags.
  • Baseball! 54a [Four-time American League leader in OBP in the 1970s] is Rod CAREW, and 61a [Four-time National League leader in OBP in the 1930s] is a creative and informative clue for our old friend Mel OTT.

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that the YMCA was founded on June 6th, 1844, 100 years before D-DAY. Peter’s determination not to repeat clues has taught me a lot of trivia.

Sam Trabucco’s New York Times crossword—Andy’s review

NYT puzzle 1.11.18 by Sam Trabucco

Sam Trabucco gives us some interrupted lines this week, but at least he completes them… eventually:

  • 16a, PLEASE LET ME FIN- [Line from someone who’s been interrupted]You might see where this is going…
    • 19a, ISH [Kinda … or a continuation of 16-Across]. 
  • 36a, DO I LOOK LIKE I’M D- [Line from someone who’s been interrupted]. 
    • 39a, ONE [Joined … or a continuation of 36-Across].
  • 55a, QUIET I WAS SPEAK- [Line from someone who’s been interrupted].
    • 58a, ING [Beethoven’s “Minuet ___” … or a continuation of 55-Across]. I’m surprised this wasn’t clued as the multinational bank.

There are also three down entries that incorporate the terminal hyphens:

  • 12d, HI-C [Fruity drink brand].
  • 35d, A-Z [The whole shebang]. Even knowing this was a three-letter answer with a hyphen in the middle, I had a hard time getting to A-Z.
  • 50d, NO-NO [It’s taboo].

I liked this theme idea a lot, and the execution is pretty elegant too. Some of the fill is really nice, even with all the necessary constraints: in particular, I liked JELLY ROLLS, OPEN A TAB, TALKS TRASH, CAL POLY, and the exceedingly clever clue for THE BIBLE [Co-written best seller]. 

I only found one section of the grid really unpleasant, and that was the ABLUSH/IBO crossing. I’m not sure why ABLUSH has appeared in the NYT puzzle several times but “aflush” hasn’t; if you don’t know IBO, you sort of need that insider knowledge to guess right on that crossing.

Otherwise, a very nice puzzle with an appropriately Thursday-ish gimmick.

Until next week (unless you’ll be at the MIT Mystery Hunt this weekend, in which case I may very well see you there)!

Alex Eaton-Salners’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Corner Cases” — Jim’s review

Intriguing theme today brought by AES who certainly has been prolific lately. The revealer starts at 36a: [With 40- and 43-Across, game that’s been played in each of this puzzle’s corners]. The answer of course being TIC / TAC / TOE.

In each 3×3 corner we find exactly 3 Xs and 2 Os or else 3 Os and 2 Xs. The other squares in each corner have random letters which I guess we are meant to ignore with respect to the theme. While most TIC-TAC-TOE games IRL end in a draw, we have clear winners here:

WSJ – Thu, 1.11.18 – “Corner Cases” by Alex Eaton-Salners

  • 13a [Final frame of a perfect game]. XXX.
  • Part of 10d [Fireworks reaction]. OOOH. That feels like a little bit of a fudge. In crosswords, a two-O OOH is usually sufficient.
  • In the diagonal going up from the bottom left with Os in OXY, FOXY, and SNOW.
  • In the diagonal going up from the bottom right with Xs in XED, OXO, and NYX.

Ambitious, different, and creative — which is just what we’re coming to expect from Alex.

But as is often the case, pushing the envelope introduces compromises. The worse one, in my opinion, being the result of the stacking of the game name in the center. At 24d we find the clue [Fit up against] which results in the unfortunate answer BUTT TO. Now, we’ve all seen a lot of verb-preposition phrases while solving crosswords (like NIP AT or ROPE IN), and they’re usually not great at the best of times, BUTT TO be honest, this one’s got to be a new low.

The other rough compromise, for me anyway, was the X in the bottom right corner at the crossing of [Greek goddess of the night] NYX and [Publish identifying info about online] DOX. I’ve never heard of either of those words (or at least don’t remember them) and would certainly have been naticked had I not realized the theme needed an X.

One final compromise is 2d OXES clued as [Clumsy fellows]. It sure looked like OAFS at first, then OXEN which I’m guessing is reserved for pluralizing the actual animal. Presumably, then, OXES is used for people emulating such animals.

That’s Harold Godwinson on the right getting run through at the Battle of Hastings…or else he’s the chap at the back of the horse with the arrow in his eye…nobody knows which

Apart from the theme, there’s some nice fill here. EXOTHERMIC (3d, [Releasing energy, as a chemical reaction]) is fun for us science nerds. And its grid-opposite at 31d [Battle of Hastings loser] is just as fun for us history nerds. I tried to fit HARALD HARDRADA in there, but it wouldn’t work. Turns out I was getting my Harolds mixed up anyway. Harald Hardrada, considered the last Viking king, invaded the north of England in 1066, pulling the King of England, Harold Godwinson to the north to do battle. Harold defeated Harald at the Battle of Stamford Bridge only to hear word that he was being invaded in the south by the Normans. He rushed to Hastings where, worn out from the forced march, he met William the Conquerer who earned his title on that battlefield thereby ushering in the Norman era. Oh, the answer to the clue isn’t a specific individual, it’s ANGLO-SAXON.

Other goodies: PARIAHS, KREMLIN, DUCATI, and “YO, DUDE!” But there are also some tough proper names: ENGEL [NBC News chief foreign correspondent Richard], ARMIE [Hammer of “Call Me by Your Name”] (Arnie seemed more likely), HOREB [Biblical mountain], and TEO [Manti ___ of the New Orleans Saints]. Thanks for not reminding solvers about that whole fake girlfriend kerfuffle while he was playing for my alma mater, Notre Dame. Oh, oops.

All in all, I felt this was a refreshing change from the usual puzzle. Yes, there were some unfortunate compromises that I wish could have been re-worked, but it was nice to see something different.

Brendan Emmett Quigley’s website crossword – “Can’t Miss” — Ben’s Review

For this week’s BEQ, I’ve got a blank space, baby, so I’ll write…wait, what’s going on with the blanks in this week’s puzzle?:

  • 17A: Critical ___ — CRUNCH TIME
  • 26A: Talking ___ — POL’S GUIDELINE
  • 43A: Pressure ___ — SENSITIVE SPOT
  • 58A: So close that you can’t miss, and a hint to this puzzle’s theme — POINT BLANK

AHA, they’re POINT BLANKs.  A “critical point” is CRUNCH TIME, “talking point” is a POL’S GUIDELINE, and a SENSITIVE SPOT is a “pressure point”.

Other notes:

  • I’m kicking myself for not writing DISCS the second I saw “Othello pieces” at 1A.
  • Sebastian STAN plays Jeff Gillooly in “I, Tonya”, a movie title I’m waiting to see pop up in a crossword any day now.
  • JAMES Gunn directed “Guardians of the Galaxy” and its sequel.  SEAN Gunn’s name is not spelled SEANN and he merely appears in the movie/wore the greet suit for where Rocket Raccoon was supposed to go
  • “Actor Wilson” is the “Mauna ___” of actor name clues, because both LUKE and OWEN have the same length and they’ve had the same level of relative fame in leading man roles.

3.75/5 stars

C.C. Burnikel’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s write-up

LA Times 180111

Cute theme. [X on it] phrases are the clues, and the answers are things on which one can X, more or less. You step on a WELCOMEMAT; you bet on a HORSERACE; you count on a TALLYSHEET; and you bank on a POOLTABLE. The last one is the stretchiest, as you >play< bank >shots< on a POOLTABLE.

3.75 Stars
It’s too hot too function here.

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14 Responses to Thursday, January 11, 2018

  1. Pat says:

    I don’t like to be a crab, but I really hated the NYT theme today. That hyphen was totally ungettable for me. (Why is spell check telling me ungettable is not a word?) Now I’m really starting the day in a bad mood! Really, who ever writes A – Z!
    Thanks for letting me vent.

    • Norm says:

      I didn’t hate the theme [it might have helped that grew up driinking Hi-C], since each of the three hyphenated words continued on the next down — just like the old typewriter days — but DO I LOOK LIKE I’M D-ONE was an abomination. The other two split at the syllables. There is no way that D-ONE is excusable.

      • scrivener says:

        I disagree. If someone is being interrupted, the moment right after the hard consonant makes a perfect spot for it. DO I LOOK LIKE I’M DO-NE would be inexcusable (not to mention not permitted in a puzzle) but at least audibly, the cutoff here works for me.

        This is a cute theme!

  2. huda says:

    NYT: I thought it was fun. But I did not figure out how to fill that hyphen square. I left it empty which means it was not finished. In Across Light it seemed like you needed to type HYPHEN or H…

  3. GlennP says:

    In my Crosswords Plus app, you had to type out the whole word HYPHEN. It took me a while to figure that out. Do constructors and editors pay much attention to how these things are going to work in non-paper formats?

  4. David Halbstein says:

    Well, I discovered something about Across Lite – if you press + Ins you can put all kinds of little icons or pictures in the puzzle. Unfortunately, none of the pictures are dashes, and I put in the word “DASH”.
    Did anyone else have a random circled letter at 18D? Thought that was a theme clue; turned out to be just an error? Or was there something more to it?

  5. cyberdiva says:

    I was going to complain about D-ONE, but Norm beat me to it. Other than that, I enjoyed the puzzle, though I needed all the crossings for RUEHL. Reading some of the comments from online solvers makes me very happy that I’ve never gone that route–I use Across Lite to print out the puzzle, and then I solve it (or fail to solve it) in pencil/pen.

  6. Zulema says:

    I ended up wondering who MR ISCAN was at 47A, but happily not for very long.

  7. David Glasser says:

    Not only is IBO a potential Natick, it is not the preferred spelling these days, and I don’t think tribe is the right word (Achebe agrees)

  8. sandra stark says:

    As to BEQ’s puzzle, just a reminder that RITA Wilson also has the right amount of letters!!!

    Tsk Tsk

Comments are closed.